PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – The Philadelphia region is known for its rich music history. It is also the birthplace of a national music celebration every June, honoring a tradition of music that has impacted the industry around the world.
“It is very important for Black music to get this level of recognition because it is America’s indigenous music,” said Black Music Month Co-founder Dyana Williams. “This is music that was created and born out of the experience of pain, suffering of enslavement, from the field songs, straight up to what is the number one genre right now in the world, which is hip hop music.”READ MORE: New Jersey Native Carli Lloyd Makes USWNT Olympic History, Wins Bronze Medal At 2020 Tokyo Olympics
And it’s become such a part of not only Black culture but American culture, too.
“This is our music, as Americans,” Williams said.
Philadelphia music pioneer Dyana Williams co-founded Black Music Month, first celebrated at the White House with a national declaration by President Jimmy Carter in 1979.
“I was on the radio at the time- so, very exciting. And here we are, 42 years later,” Williams said.
Williams, along with Philadelphia music legend Kenny Gamble, and others birthed the idea for Black Music Month in Philadelphia.
“Philadelphia has been a cultural and music mecca for centuries,” Williams said.
It’s a tradition, rich with history. And while a lot of events that pay tribute are virtual this year, the spirit of Black music and its influence remain among the most impactful for all genres.
“It’s not just that the Black community elevates, it is that the music community as a whole, elevates,” Donn T, Philadelphia Recording Academy President, said.READ MORE: 4 People Shot In Drive-By Shooting During Sidewalk Sale In Franklinville, Philadelphia Police Say
Donn Thompson Morelli, known professionally as Donn T, is a performing artist and the new president of the Philadelphia Chapter of the Recording Academy, which gives out the Grammys.
“When I think about Black music I think of music activism. I grew up, personally, with a father, who in the 1950s — it was a very different time,” Donn T said.
Her father was iconic Philadelphia singer Lee Andrews, whose legacy impacted not only her career but that of her brother – Quest Love of The Roots.
“Black Music History and Black Music Month creates illumination around the idea and elevation, ultimately around music culture – not just in the city but in the country and around the world,” Donn T said.
And its international and economic impact are boundless.
“In addition to being a great cultural asset, it is one of America’s greatest exports to the tune of billions – not millions – billions of dollars around the planet,” Williams said.
And this year, Black music month was commemorated with the grand opening of the National Museum of African American Music in Nashville last week.MORE NEWS: Reports: Danny Green, Philadelphia 76ers Agree To 2 Year, $20M Deal
By all accounts of those who have been there, it’s a must-see and it features some Philly favorites as well.